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Visit California's Top Luxury Hotels and Inns

Aug 20, 2008
It's the Golden State. The very name California evokes images of Hollywood glamour, surfers gliding along the waves and days filled with sunshine. From sunrise to sunset, your California days will be filled with fun no matter how you decide to spend your time. With so many diverse attractions and regions to explore, it's best to divide and conquer -- break California into several different trips and really dive in and explore all it has to offer.

From the North to the South

Hit all the hot spots from north to south on a scenic coastal vacation. Begin in San Francisco, where you'll need several days to really take in the city. Be sure to visit famous sites such as Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. From there, head south along the coast past the beautiful seaside town of Half Moon Bay and the colorful city of Santa Cruz. Head to the Monterey Bay area, where you'll find incomparable views and many of the state's most idyllic bed and breakfasts. There's plenty to do, from visiting Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium to taking nature walks and golfing.

Carmel, famous for its beaches, golf courses, art galleries and scenic drives, offers several great bed and breakfast choices. Tickle Pick Inn, named as California's Most Romantic property by Karen Brown readers, is perfect for honeymooners or those celebrating a trip just for two. Some of the rooms offer private balconies, where you can relax and enjoy a wonderful sea view, and several also include a wood-burning fireplace. The Sea View Inn, another Carmel gem and the Karen Brown Readers' Choice winner for Greatest Value, is perfect for those who seek luxury and romance on a budget. The charming historic bed and breakfast has eight individually decorated guest rooms, ranging from cozy third-floor rooms to more spacious abodes -- one room includes a king-size canopy bed. Plus, this inn offers a great location; it's just a three-minute walk to the beach.

After your stop in Carmel, head south to Hearst Castle and on to Santa Barbara, where you'll find plenty of shops and restaurants. After that, it's just over an hour's drive to the edge of Los Angeles, where you'll find everything from the finest shopping to art galleries to museums to amusement parks to spectacular sunsets at the beach. Head into Orange County for a trip to Disneyland or the art Mecca of Laguna Beach.

Take a Leisurely Loop Around Southern California

Southern California often gets a bad rap as being a bit too glossy and over-the-top, but you really can't judge this region by its cover. Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego Counties offer a wide variety of attractions. The Getty Center and Norton-Simon museums display works by some of the world's most renown artists. There are several historic missions, most notably the Mission San Juan Capistrano in south Orange County, which dates to 1776. For outdoor lovers, there are miles of scenic beaches to enjoy, as well as tide pools, bicycle routes and nature trails. Family-friendly attractions, such as Universal Studios, Knott's Berry Farm, Disneyland and Legoland are sure to please the whole family. In San Diego, don't-miss attractions include Sea World and Balboa Park, home to many museums and the San Diego Zoo.

Santa Monica, just a few miles west of the downtown Los Angeles, offers several places to stay and is still close to all the city's attractions. The Channel Road Inn, located in a restored historic building, offers a variety of well-appointed rooms just a few blocks from the ocean. In Orange County, try the Blue Lantern Inn which overlooks the Dana Point Harbor. The inn is about midway between Los Angeles and San Diego, a half-hour from Disneyland and just a few minutes from the artist colony of Laguna Beach. In La Jolla, a stunning seaside village just north of San Diego, you'll find the historic La Valencia Hotel. After spending some time in San Diego, head east and visit the Gold Rush town of Julian, now famous for its apples and apple pies. Keep going north, and your last stop will be Palm Springs, an oasis of shopping, spas, golf and relaxation.

From San Francisco to Points North

This journey begins by spending a few days in the San Francisco Bay area, with its myriad of attractions. Tour the cells of Alcatraz, enjoy a picnic at Golden Gate Park or enjoy the shops and sites of Fisherman's Wharf. From there, head north to Mendocino, stopping to visit Point Reyes Station National Seashore, which includes nature trails and a lighthouse. Mendocino is a quiet little town that reminds one of a quaint New England village. As you keep heading north, don't forget to spend some time touring the Avenue of the Giants, where you'll find the tallest trees in the world.

Splurge a little, or maybe a lot, with a stay at the Inn Above Tide. Located across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco in nearby Sausalito, this exclusive inn boasts some of the best views around and won the Karen Brown Readers' Choice Award for Splendid Splurge. Most of the rooms have private balconies that look out to the city and bay. The rooms are lavishly appointed, and range from stylish rooms with two queen beds to an opulent penthouse fit for a queen.

Enjoy the Fine Vintages of California's Wine Country

With several hundred wineries spread among scenic Napa and Sonoma counties, you'll have plenty of tastings to select. There are also hot-air balloon rides for the not-so-faint at heart, plenty of shops to explore, gourmet restaurants and top-notch spas. One particularly special town is Calistoga, where you'll find hot springs that have soothed many a visitor for hundreds of years. A trip to Calistoga wouldn't be complete without a trip to Chateau de Vie (winner of Karen Brown Readers' Choice Award for California's Warmest Welcome). The bed and breakfast is surrounded by vineyards, and offers a variety of amenities. Each morning, coffee and tea is placed outside your guest room door, and whenever you are ready, there is a full, seasonal breakfast to enjoy. There is a lap pool, as well as a hot tub in the private garden where you can relax under the stars. The inn sells its own Chateau de Vie wines, so be sure to pick up a bottle as a souvenir.

Whatever itinerary you choose, your California trip will be full of fun and surprises. With so much diversity, you'll be amazed that it's all captured in one state.
About the Author
Tess Kirkpatrick loves romantic hotels and planning travel itineraries. To get additional information on these California hotels and inns or additional romantic hotels in California , visit the Karen Brown site today.
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